If I’m being completely honest, the works of William Shakespeare don’t get my cinematic or literary juices flowing. I recognize the greatness of The Bard, but in terms of enjoyment? Not too often, over the years. So, when something turns a Shakespeare adaptation on its ear, I’m…all ears. Give me 10 Things I Hate About You over Hamlet, frankly. When it comes to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, another straight take would be boring. So, pivoting to a side character in the retelling Rosaline is a mild stroke of genius. Plus, the film turns out to be a lot of fun, as an added bonus, showcasing the talents of Kaitlyn Dever.
Rosaline is at its best when the modern sensibilities come into play, which also plays into Dever’s strengths. When that’s happening, this is a delightful flick. The movie is always fun, but it does ebb and flow. There’s clearly a stronger element, with the writing really singing then, but it’s hard not to be charmed by this film.
A retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a decidedly comedic bent, instead of the title characters, the focus is on Rosaline (Dever). When we meet her, she’s secretly dating Romeo (Kyle Allen), since he’s of course a Montague and she’s a Capulet. Her father Adrian (Bradley Whitford) keeps trying to marry her off, but she only has eyes for Romeo. When Adrian forces her to go out with Dario (Sean Teale) on the night of a masquerade ball, she’s devastated, without even knowing that Romeo is going to meet and fall in love with her cousin, Juliet (Isabela Merced).
Rosaline is heartbroken, with Nurse Janet (Minnie Driver) trying to cheer her up. Instead, she starts plotting how to split the new pair up. As the events of the classic text play out, Rosaline is around, doing her best to wreck it all.
Kaitlyn Dever Beyond the title character and Dever’s superb turn, Bradley Whitford is a highlight. He’s clearly having a blast. Kyle Allen and Isabela Merced aren’t going to become iconic Romeos and Juliets, but they get the job done. Supporting players include, in addition to a witty Minnie Driver, Christopher McDonald, Spencer Stevenson, and more, but Dever is clearly the star.
Director Karen Maine is leaning into the fun that writers Scott Neustadter and Micheal H. Weber are having with the tale. Adapting Rebecca Serle‘s novel, the trio not just support Dever capably, but really do seem to be having a good time. The joy and sly wit on display trickles down to us, making it all go down quite easily.
Rosaline is a terrific Kaitlyn Dever vehicle, as well as a clever new take on Shakespeare. Having Neustadter and Weber penning the adaptation doesn’t hurt, either. It all adds up to something very fun, if ever so slightly disposable. We might not have a new modern classic on our hands, but for those of you looking for a non-horror option this month, Hulu has certainly got you covered here.